Multiple gene mutations lead to growing herbicide resistance in morning glory: study

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CHICAGO, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- Over the past two decades, a growing number of weed species have evolved resistance to glyphosate, an active ingredient of one of the mostly widely used agricultural chemicals in history.

While research on the genetic basis of glyphosate resistance has focused largely on target-site resistance, which involves mutations to the single gene that make weed resistant to glyphosate, a new study said nontarget-site glyphosate resistance may be just as important, according to a report by the University of Michigan (UM), which was released on Monday.

According to the report, a team led by UM plant ecological geneticist Regina Baucom used genome-wide scans to identify nontarget-site glyphosate resistance in the common morning glory. Five regions of the genome with strong signs of selection were found, where genes that enable the weed to detoxify the herbicide were enriched.

Researchers believed that it was clear indication of rapid evolution of resistance.

"We show that morning glory exhibits nontarget-site resistance and that detoxification of the herbicide by the plant is a likely resistance mechanism in this species," said Baucom, associate professor in the UM Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. "Common morning glory has always been problematic to farmers, with some populations more resistant than others. But until now we didn't know why it was so problematic."

Evidence for both parallel and nonparallel genetic changes associated with glyphosate resistance in the morning glory was found by the study, suggesting there are more genetic avenues underlying the adaptation to herbicide than scientists previously considered. Enditem

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